tv [untitled] February 14, 2013 2:30pm-3:00pm PST
of powell and california, exactly 72 82 powell street for almost two years. and there was no sud to justify the interim use of the site. well, this is not required below grade extraction. it facilitated the building of the cable car. however, it then returned the property to its potential realization with an entitled residential project, which at its time was slightly too large, but that is not what we're discussing here. using an sud for an interim use and then tagging on a project which by necessity of demolition for the interim use would require cu without submitting proper drawings which, one, in approving sud and approving cu are required i think is unfathomable to me. this commission spent a lot of
time against some of our convictionses at the time and we approved the project with the very thoughtfully executed design which with many tucks and twists and turns, but forward a project that the neighborhood was comfortable with at large. i support the design, although there were people who asked us to hold out and not approve. after so many years, as the audience here testified, this site needed a change. why can't this project not in good faith come back to this commission as a regular cu rather than want be to be a cu with an already existing special use district? there are two cus embedded with the north beach, the 1999 neighborhood commercial district as well as the 2008 special use district. the rules which are established
in those cus, all they do is guide uniform predictable development. that is the strength and that is the beauty why this neighborhood is one of the few neighborhoods in the united states which was elevated to a very special status of livability among the many cities which [speaker not understood]. why tinker with that? why take it out of public review by giving it a new height limit? why take it out of public review by pre-authorizing without any proof of drawings or do an increase what needs to come back as a restaurant use over 4,000 square feet? why, without having drawings blankly approve, variances, et cetera? i believe it's in bad faith for myself sitting here as a commissioner trying to guard the public interest and be
looking out for it to prove an sud and a cu which does so. there is, when you look at the rather shoddy set of drawings attached to today's proposal, drawings which are one prepared by another architect. these drawings show changes. the name of the firm which is submitting these drawings is different. the address is different from the architect who the project we approved in 2010. and there is not even a color [speaker not understood] or anything which makes you compare with then what was now the drawings are not a full set of drawings. they are basically pick and choose in the set that at least 6 or 8 drawings missing. so, if you [speaker not understood] you can piece it together. but even at very cursory -- and i'm using the word cursory review, the project is different enough to have to come back to this commission with a full set of accurate
drawings between -- to compare what was approved then and potentially in kind support the approval of a new cu in the future. i am concerned about the lack of e-i-r issues, nipa issues that commissioner sugaya touched on. i support many of the concerns addressed by the audience. and i believe that we are rushing this at a rate that does not give us the ability to support. >> commissioner borden. >> i feel quite a bit differently. you know, we have -- the fundamental difference in this project and the project we saw a couple years ago was full demolition of the older building, which was pretty much been kind of a shed standing for quite sometime versus a
total demolition. i mean, i always argue about i'm not always confused about de facto or actual demolition. but in all intents and purposes, the previous project we approved didn't even look like the same project although it was not considered a total demolition. now we have a total demolition and we basically have fundamentally the same project before us. the issues, we may have -- we have drawings in front of us and maybe they're not color rendering. but substantially everything about this project, the size and the scope, the only difference that we talked about is the size of the use for the restaurant there being whether or not it was commercial use, other commercial use incorporated. but i haven't actually heard anyone, members of the public bringing up issues about the substantive factors of the project itself should that space not be a larger restaurant, you know, none of the -- none of the substantive issues about the development project or what people are talking about. they're talking about the
boring machines and whether or not they agree with the process or all of that's happened. for me, i mean, what i have in front of me is a conditional use authorization related to the actual project itself, which i see to be fundamentally the same project that i looked at a few years back. and i do remember touring that theater during that time and what poor condition it was in, and i know that there was a lot of pressure to try to preserve it and that was like the intent of the project sponsor in the original proposal. but obviously, again, it didn't really look to be the same. in terms of why we use conditional use necessary or desirable, you know, we had a special use district for booker t. washington, for higher height district. we decided it was necessary and desirable for the type of housing community it was providing. we also approved that sud prior to the board of supervisors taking action on it. so, it's not as if this is unusual situation. i would say that the completion of this project is necessary and desirable for the city and
we've already invested the funds. commissioner sugaya brought up a good point. one of the shortcomings of this project all along was that it didn't extend all the way to fisherman's wharf. if we had the opportunity, the boring machines in north beach and set up at least a north beach station and poe lebanontionv any in the future be able to explore a fisherman's wharf station, it makes a lot of sense to me that we would want to make that preference. the other thing i wanted to point out is that in terms of the sud we've discussed, it has an expiration date on it. this is not an incident sud. so, it's not like other sud's we typically implement where there is no time frame. this is specific to this project and this boring situation. so, if that doesn't happen, then this sud goes away, we're not creating an instance in the planning code where something doesn't fit that [speaker not understood] we already approved. in terms of leaving the machinery in the ground, after everything we've learned post hunters point shipyard project and the burning -- the below
the soil and all types of contaminants, i can't imagine leaving some sort of metal or steel or whatever kind of machine it is underground for perpetuity. it just doesn't seem like good public policy give that hectionv we never know what the long-term ramifications to such action. in terms of people saying the disturbance of north beach versus the disturbance of chinatown, so, i'm not really clear why it's okay to disturb businesses in chinatown but not okay to disturb businesses in north beach. that argument kind of doesn't really hold a lot of weight for me. in terms of the geotechnical issues, the obviously once they demolish the building as someone pointed out we can do further analysis and requirements around that, that is not the jurisdiction of this planning commission. we hear it all the time in discretionary review in other cases. people claiming geotechnical issues. ultimately we're not going to know what we know until we're in the ground. projects are stopped or halted or decisions are made at that time. again, this commission can't make decisions based on that nor is it even in the purview of the requested actions that we're looking at.
so, you know, for me i don't see a reason not to support the project. i was supportive of the project when it came to us before. the height, the bulk, the units, everything is substantially the same as the previous project. i don't have an opinion on the restaurant size being larger than what was previously contemplated. i do know that we're having an issue with retail spaces being viable for better and for worse. so, i don't see any reason not to support the project especially since it achieves the aims and goals of our transit first policy and allowing the transit to be extended potentially further into a community that definitely needs it would actually be worthwhile. but again, for me if necessary or desirable, this project we decided that before added the additional benefits of the central subway i'm very supportive of it. >> if i could add about the plan. so, the architect has changed from the project that was previously before the commission. i don't know if the previous
architect had died, but there is a new architect on board. and they did submit a site permit, the full site permit was reviewed by all agencies and approved, it was actually ready for issuance. so, the apploonians that were included in the packet are based on the site plans that are ready for approval to construct the project that was already approved by the commission. i just wanted to note that. >> thank you. commissioner hillis. >> sure. i agree with much of what commissioner borden said. i think when you boil this down, we can redebate the central subway project every time we have a station project before. so, whatever the item. but when you're boring it down, it seems to me like we're vastly improving the condition upon removing these machines for folks at north beach whether they're residents or businesses instead of doing it on columbus avenue, we're now doing it on the pagoda site, which i imagine will be less impactful or a lot less impactful than doing it in the street. we've got a project that's
pretty much identical to the project we approved, but probably has more opportunity and more feasibility to be built. and i agree with ms. christiansen, i hope this leads to more debate about than it is here, extending the subway to north beach and onto fisherman's wharf. so, i guess the only question i have is something mr. bruno raised about could we impact or could we reduce the impact on the neighborhood even more by moving the machines to the side, you know, under the new library, under the park, under joe di maggio, under some other right-of-way and leave them there. i didn't see that alternative as being discussed. is that an alternative that you all thought about and dismissed for some reason or another? >> thank you, commissioner hillis. but that was one when i mentioned we had explored i think four different options that we brought to the community in addition to the currently approved plan. that was one of them. we actually had a few different versionses of that.
one was leaving the machines underground in chinatown. one was bringing them to the current retrieval site and leaving them. and then there was a third that was bringing them further up, further northwest on columbus and leaving them. they were, as i mentioned for the different alternatives that we brought forward to the community, there were pros and cons. in the end the confluence of being able to help address the pagoda site, of being able to pull the machines out as is currently contemplated in our contract, not leave something underground, that kind of tipped the balance. at that particular meeting at the time there was -- seemed to be little to no public support for bringing the machines to north beach and leaving them in the ground. but that is something that's viable, it's something that we could do. but in weighing the different
pros and cons of the project and the impact on the community, the pagoda was -- seemed far and away the best option. >> and just so we know, it's irrelevant to the approvals. what is that process like? i mean, actually, you know, excavating and making that extraction tunnel and extracting the machinery, how long does that take? i mean, is it similar to building a building there? how long impactful is it to the neighbors? >> so, the extraction itself, it will be somewhere between 10 and 12 months. as mr. funge said, we're not going to be pile driving, we're going to be drilling to basically build a wall, building kind of a water-tight wall. and then it's excavation and pouring concrete. so, you know, it's significant construction. we're confident that we can manage it without any -- without undue significant
disruption to the neighborhood. we're very aware of the concerns of the abutting restaurants and abutting buildings and want to make sure that we do everything we can to minimize the disruption. arguably, the subsequent construction of the new building that already was approved may even be less disruptive than it would be otherwise because the owner would be starting with a virtually clean development path that may make that process actually [inaudible]. >> thank you. >> commissioner antonini. >> yeah. mr. reiskin, while you're up, i just have a couple questions. the first is, again, we're not talking about this now, but a lot of commentary has gone on about future possible north beach station extension to fisherman's wharf. if, when this tunnel is finished and the boring machines are extracted from the pagoda site, the tunnel from the last chinatown station to north beach will be a tunnel that will have walls on it. is that right?
i mean, they pour it, but it has concrete to hold the tunnel -- >> correct, commissioner. and that's the reason why we can't back up the machine. as each step of the machine -- the boring moves forward, what comes behind it is the encasing that creates the wall of the tunnel. so, at that point diameter of the tunnel is less than the diameter of the machine. so, that's why it keeps going forward. we'll be building the tunnel out. we won't be installing track and all the systems much beyond the station. they go beyond the station, but not all the way. but the tunnel infrastructure itself will be there. >> so, aside from the election strife indication and the track, you have a tunnel that is usable for the future that goes all the way to north beach? >> that's correct. >> okay. and then my question is * if we did decide to go to fisherman's wharf, is it possible to bring in machines from an entry site somewhere different further down columbus, wherever it's felt is
beneficial, and then bore to the existing tunnel which will dead end there at the pagoda theater? just on columbus, just before the tunnel goes into the pagoda theater. >> yes, regardless of really where we end this tunnel, if the city decides in the future to extend the project further north ward, likely the tunnel boring would start from the north and come down and meet the current tunnel. >> presumably we could make the two meet. i mean, if they can bore tunnels in 1920 in granite for the hetch hetchy project within a couple of inches of each ooh i think today we can make the new tunnel meet the old tunnel, i would hope. thank you very much. i think that's a huge improvement. you know, what i'm getting at is there have been some discussion about how far away we are from a future of a north beach station. that's not what's before us. but this project allows that as a realistic possibility. and one of my oppositions or my
questioning of the central subway when it first came forward was ending the subway in chinatown. i know that was what was funded and that was what was analyzed and that's what it had to be. but i was really happy to hear even in those days that the extension of the tunnel was proposed to go into north beach and that's, you know, makes a lot of sense. and i've heard that it can be done. the other issue that's been brought up is the height of the new structure which is exactly the same as the height of the existing structure. if you're happy with the height of the existing structure, then i don't really know why someone would object to the very same building at the same height and whether we have to go through the same mechanics again to approve the same thing. and that's maybe one reason why it takes so long to do anything in san francisco, because we like to do it 10 times before we approve it. but it makes sense you're building essentially the same thing. so, it doesn't make any sense to do it over again and make the project sponsor and all of us go through enormous cost to
do the same process again for the sake of saying it was a different approval. and, so, with that i'm happy to go ahead and move -- i know commissioner sugaya has some comments, but i'm going to make a motion anyway to approve all three items if we can. director ram, city attorney, stacey, can we do them all together, should we do them as separate item? >> commissioner, the recommendation is to take items 7a and b together. >> okay. >> and then take an action on item c. >> okay. so, let me go ahead and propose for this time -- >> i apologize. thank you, commissioner. i just wanted to reiterate the request to amend the term of the approval as well per the language that was passed out during my presentation. >> the term of the approval as per your language -- >> for the sud?
>> it would sink row nighx the validity [speaker not understood] if the sud moves forward for approval at the board. >> that's what i understood in the motion. which is it, a, b or c, whichever one it's in. it's the sud, so it would be -- that's a. >> it would be within the conditional use authorization, one of the conditions at the conditional use authorization. >> let's just work with a and b for now. so, i would move approval of the request for zoning text amendment to establish the central subway tunnel boring machine extraction site special use district on the property and the rest of the issues that are spelled out there, and 7b, which is request for height request reclassification zoning map to reclassify from 40 height and bulk district to 50 foot height and bulk district. >> second. >> is it 50 or 55? 55, commissioner. >> 55, okay, okay. that is what my motion is, 40
to 55. >> that's what it says here. >> second. >> commissioner sugaya. >> yes, i'd like to remind the commission that we do have jurisdiction over geotechnical matters through the california environmental quality act. it's been pointed out i think in the carp report and others that there is a question about that. i'm not the expert. i don't know. and, you know, so, i think that if the commission were to say that perhaps the supplemental wasn't sufficient in addressing a geotechnical aspects of this project, that we could order such a thing to happen. so, it's not necessarily that we don't have jurisdiction over geo tech. we certainly do. and that includes things like vibration, which i've dealt with through environmental reports on numerous occasions
with respect to stored buildings. this is not the same project as has been alleged. it is new project, new construction. that for me changes the parameter because now we're being asked to take a lot more serious action to change the planning code than we did previously. because the existing building was there and it was a proposed rehabilitation, we did not have to address the height increase. we did not have to address other things that we are now being asked to do, and that's what i object to. >> commissioners, there is a motion and a second to -- >> wait, wait, jonas. one other thing. i think in the interest of supporting the legislation -- i mean the motion so that we don't run into a future problem, i'm still going to vote against it. but on page 14 of the draft
motion under urban design elements objectives and policies, policy 2.4, it's a very small thing. but it uses a language, the subject building was not found to be a historic resource due to lack of integrity, et cetera. let's see. but the form of the theater including the hiss torquev blade sign are important, visual reminders of the building's historic use and are to be retained and rehabilitated as part of the proposal. * i don't think we can say that because this is new construction, the blade sign is going to be demolished and the building is going to be demolished. so, i think you have to change the wording to say something like the reminder of the building's historic use will be documented and reconstructed as part of the new construction project. >> commissioner, with respect to that language, i perhaps could have worded that more
elegantly. the attempt was to describe the massing and form of the building are to be retained, not the building itself. and then the blade sign would be reincorporated into the new project. so, it's really talking about the building envelope and the building's character. that being retained rather than the physical fabric of the building. >> yeah, i didn't have a problem with that. it's just the way the word retained and rehabilitated is used because we're not rehabilitating anything here. >> right. my understanding is the sign is to be rehabilitated and reincorporated into the project that's actually one of the provisions that the sud addresses. but the retention in the original proposal of that sign and the reincorporation was thought to be important for compatibility with the district and, again, sort of a visual reminder of the site's past use. >> yeah, all right, okay, i understand that. that's the main reason i'm voting against it, too, because i think it's a stupid design.
we have brand-new construction and we're going to have false historicism to a facade that doesn't exist. we could have had an opportunity to have a brand-new nice building here, but no. >> commissioner moore. >> regarding the sign, i think that speaks to the same vagueness and incomplete information which were being provided. if the sign is with stored, that is one thing. but if it's just rehabilitated, it means that basically falls outside the sign ordinance which currently governs the district, and that is where i have my problems. it's in the incompleteness of many things that are related to the future nature of the building. it is not the extraction site as an interim use. i support contemplation of planning and considering various locations for the extension of the subway,
something we have talked about many years ago. my commissioner here is saying we are having [speaker not understood] discussion is very possible. [speaker not understood] i saw commissioner hillis making it sound as if we are circular. that's very possible. the concern with everything justin said today has not been alleviated and i unfortunately as much as i would like to be supportive of the transportation part cannot support what is in front of us. >> commissioners, there is a motion and a second to adopt the request for zoning text amendment and height reclassification for 1731 powell street. commissioner antonini? >> aye. >> commissioner borden? >> aye. >> commissioner hillis? >> aye. >> commissioner moore? >> no. >> commissioner sugaya? >> no. i just have to note also that when i said i didn't have any plan -- we didn't have any plan, i don't have any plans. so, commissioner moore corrected me in saying that she has it and i notice commissioner antonini has them, too. but for some reason i never
received that. no. >> anything else? [laughter] >> i could go on for another -- [laughter] [speaker not understood]. >> and commission president fong? >> aye. >> thank you, commissioners. that motion passes 4 to 2. >> commissioner antonini. >> and i will move 7c, which is request for conditional use authorization to allow development of a lot grade of 5,000 square feet and the other item included in the text. and this is the extended approval period as included in this motion. >> as amended by staff? >> as amended by staff. >> second. >> commissioners, on that motion, commissioner antonini? >> aye. >> commissioner borden? >> aye. >> commissioner hillis? >> aye. >> commissioner moore? >> no. >> commissioner sugaya? >> no. >> commission president fong? >> aye. >> so moved, commissioners, that motion passes 4 to 2.